Andrew Harbaugh | July 17th, 2019
Yesterday we had the joy of having my list of top five running backs and on Monday it was the top five quarterbacks being released, which can be found below, that was just the beginning of this scouting frenzy.
The latest rankings to burn a hole in some peoples phones and twitter accounts was my lack of respect in my rankings in Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers. In my defense, this running back class is so close grade-wise for me that one good or bad game for some guys throws the whole thing into chaos.
Again though that’s the beauty of scouting, it’s in the eye of the beholder and we each have different eyes for talent. If we all had the same views then optometrists would be in trouble.
Now, keep in mind while reading to let me know what players I’m missing out on, what players I’m low on, and what players I’m too high on. The beauty of the NFL draft is everyone has an opinion and it is important everyone gets a chance to share how they feel about certain players.
Last year we had an obsession with the Metcalfs, Butlers, and Harmons of the college world but this year? We get the true diamonds we have all been waiting for.
1) Jerry Jeudy
Jerry Jeudy is the best player receiving prospect since Odell Backham Jr., Mike Evans, or Sammy Watkins. Jeudy is a complete package and is the best receiver to come out of Tuscaloosa since Julio Jones.
Now with all those big names out of the way, let’s discuss what Jeudy does so well, it’s quite simple actually, Jerry Jeudy just gets open. Jeudy uses his excellent footwork and route-running skills to just always read defenses in the zone and to work the corner attached to him in man coverage. It’s something that we don’t normally see from college-wide receivers that’s why they have a learning curve when it comes to the NFL. Most receivers take two to three years before they really make an impact, Jeudy can make a day one impact with his skillset.
For me, Jeudy doesn’t have a lot to grow on during what many expect to be his last year at Alabama. Adding some extra weight to his frame would certainly help, just to get over 200 would be excellent in my eyes. He should be able to add that without sacrificing too much of his speed.
The player with one of the toughest stories this draft season has to be Laviska Shenault. Jr. Shenault lost his dad when he was seven and has since been growing his dreads and playing football in his honor, hard not to root for him.
That being said, he does have one special set of hands that sets him apart from so many other prospects this year. In The Longest Yard, the one with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, Rock has a line for Michael Irvin’s character that goes “That man can catch a cold in the desert”, that fits Shenault perfectly. I’m sure he has drops on tape but I have yet to find any and he always uses his hands to catch never his body. Even if he has triple coverage he will find a way to track the ball and bring it in.
Shenault does need to add a little more speed to his game though. He has a big frame that is listed at 220 pounds so he may have to slim down a smidge to accomplish that. If he can add speed to his game or run a good forty time at the Combine if he declares the sky’s the limit for Shenault.
3) CeeDee Lamb
The best wide receiver on Oklahoma last year is back for his Junior year. Everyone talked up Hollywood Brown, deservedly so, but meanwhile, Lamb was putting up video game-like numbers and impressing scouts in his shadow.
Lamb is a true home run threat in an already deadly offense led by the masterful mind of Head Coach Lincoln Riley. His speed and excellent route running are what allowed him to average almost 18 yards per catch and to find the endzone 11 times on top of it all. This year with a quarterback like Jalen Hurts potentially being the starter it will really showcase how good a receiver he is similar to the likes of Shenault and Jeudy.
If Lamb can see himself worked into some more routes and to sharpen his shorter nonvertical type routes it would improve his stock tremendously. Lamb in the slot or outside working in would be a deadly idea to brew up if I’m Lincoln Riley. His true test though is going to be dealing with a passer, not as skilled as Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray if he can still produce at an elite level with Hurts his place as a top-three receiver in this class should be cemented.
4) Tee Higgins
Tee Higgins was overshadowed by breakout freshmen Justyn Ross but he still remains the best receiver on this team. Higgins was a Biletnikoff Award finalist last year and has a chance be that and more this year.
Higgins is one of those receivers that does a lot of things well but where he excels is his footwork and route running. He has the breakaway speed and acceleration to turn a catch five to ten yards off the line of scrimmage into a 40 to 50 yard gain when the play is done. Higgins doesn’t make the flashy plays that Justyn Ross makes but he is a complete receiver that a quarterback can trust to always work his way open.
As far as improvements and areas Higgins should focus I would direct that to his athleticism as a whole. Work on expanding that vertical along with maintaining that speed he possesses with that 6’4” frame.
To quote Chris Collinsworth “now here is a guy…” that draft twitter as whole fell in love with due to his flashy play, The true beauty in his play is in his physical style paired with elite athleticism.
Minnesota Coach P.J. Fleck had a star receiver that helped him earn his Minnesota job in Corey Davis. Davis was a top ten pick back in 2017 but I think Johnson is a better receiver and prospect than Davis is and was back in 2017. Johnson has a diverse route tree that not many other receivers have paired with speed and an insane vertical. His hand strength is on display at times whether it be catching in traffic or one-handed catching. Johnson is a monster of a receiver and many scouts and teams will fall in love with him especially if he gets to make a trip down to Mobile where he can showcase in front of all 32 teams.
Before he makes that potential trip down to Mobile if Johnson can sure up his route running so he can dominate one on one drills he could see a meteoric rise up both NFL teams boards and my rankings personally.
Questions and comments?
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